By Ben Fractenberg
MANHATTAN — Gov. David Paterson has yanked raises for five aides Wednesday after he was sharply criticized by union workers for allowing the pay hikes while pushing a furlough plan that cuts a day's pay a week from 100,000 state employees.
Word of the raises came one day after the furlough plan was approved by the state Legislature. Four of the staffers worked in the governor's press office.
"We're not going to let this become a distraction," Paterson Communications Director Morgan Hook told the New York Post. "We're going to do what is not the right thing and pull back these promotions."
Paterson's office previously identified the workers and their new salaries as: Jessica Bassett, from $65,000 to $75,000; Anna Adams-Sarthou, $35,000 to $45,000; Melanie Hartgraves, $38,000 to $45,000; Margaret-Kelly McKeon, $65,000 to $75,000. The fifth aide works in the governor's New York City office. Elizabeth Banner's pay went from $55,000 to $60,000.
The Public Employees Federation, Civil Service Employees Association and the teachers unions joined together in seeking an injunction against the ordered furloughs.
Comptroller Thomas DiNappoli’s office was given the paperwork to approve the raises for Paterson's aides some time in the past 10 days, Fox23 reported.
"It's a slap in the face to state employees who have had their raise delayed and are threatened with the loss of another 20 percent pay per week through the furloughs," Public Employees Federation spokeswoman Darcy Wells told the Post when news of the hikes broke. "Whatever happened to shared sacrifice?"